[Review] Legends Of Tomorrow Episode 4×03: “Dancing Queen”

written by Kate Spencer

SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT

This week, Legends firmly establishes a paradox rule…why does that worry me?

We open with Queen Elizabeth dancing to the Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen” at a punk show in 1977. She’s crowdsurfing and tossing her crown around the room.

You know, eventually one of these episodes is going to have the most mundane plot and it’s going to throw me off completely.

History now shows that the Queen is institutionalized and the U.K. falls into chaos because in the Legends world, the monarchy is more than just a traditional money sink that serves as a celebrity face for a democratically-elected parliament.

Look, I was either going to offend with my take on the monarchy or my lack of punk knowledge. I’m just front-loading here.

Sara takes umbrage with Nate’s new “desk job” and taunts him by saying the “cool kids” are going to London. Since Zari’s necklace is gone, Ray fits her air totem into a Fitbit (I’m not kidding), so she’s exchanged gaudy costume jewelry for a sleek watch with a red stone in it. The magic-o-meter tracks the disturbance to a band called The Smell, who were performing onstage when the queen was out partying. Constantine takes one look at a picture of the band and deduces that the Irishman in it is a leprechaun.

ZARI: “Sorry. Are you being serious or racist?”
CONSTANTINE: “Both, love.”

John, you’re a horrible person.

They go to the concert in disguise – punk Sara and Zari are adorable – and Constantine tries to take the lead because he’s British and used to play at the venue with his punk band, Mucous Membrane. Hah! I was hoping they would reference his comic book punk band. Mick doesn’t like Constantine, they argue, they fight. Constantine lights Mick’s shoe on fire, Mick hits him with a bottle, and a full-blown brawl breaks out among the rowdy punks.

*checks stopwatch* One minute and four seconds. I think that’s a new Legends record for fucking up a mission.

The mission is salvaged when the Smell use Ray as a getaway driver and Sara sees an opportunity to get a man on the inside. “Rayge” (oh my god Ray seriously?) introduces himself to Charlie, the band leader, and per Constantine’s idea, spills a bowl of rice on the floor to try to out Declan as a leprechaun. Declan is familiar with the leprechaun test and isn’t amused – or a leprechaun, for that matter.

The band likes “Rayge,” but they put him to the test with a little dognapping. Ray manages to steal one of the queen’s corgis from the royal dogwalker, thanks to Sara beating up the guards. The corgi is dropped off at the animal shelter after being given a purple mohawk, and Rayge is given a mohawk corgi tattoo by the band to celebrate.

I love how far away from the other DCTV shows Legends has gotten recently. Can you imagine anything like this happening on The Flash? Can you see Supergirl dealing with unicorns and fairy godmothers? Imagine, for a moment, Oliver Queen’s reaction to watching Beebo fight Mallus. They don’t even seem like the same genres anymore with how much Legends is leaning into humor, and that’s actually a good thing. It’s something to set the show apart and show a different side of the Arrowverse.

Constantine goes to a pub in Liverpool where he makes casual conversation with the lady bartender. Zari comes in and, with her usual snark, says the brooding anti-hero thing is a real panty-dropper and asks John if he told the barkeep he lives with four roommates and sleeps on the couch.

CONSTANTINE: “No, I didn’t. She’s my mum.”
ZARI: “…I’m really wishing I had not said ‘panty-dropper”.
CONSTANTINE: “Eyep.”

That made me cackle. Zari sticks her foot further in her mouth by asking if Constantine and his mom were close. No, it turns out, since she died in childbirth, which led to John’s dad calling him “Killer” throughout his childhood. Holy shit! Pa Constantine is actually there at the bar, flirting with Ma Constantine.

John’s self-loathing reaches its peak and he tries to end his own misery (and the misery he’s caused) by giving his dad a “back alley vasectomy”. He kicks, time glitches, and he falls on his ass. Zari tells him it’s the “ball kick paradox” – you can’t kick your own dad in the junk because you’d erase yourself from the timeline, which means there would be no one to kick your dad in the junk. He tries again, gets into a fight with his dad, and is thrown out.

Zari gives him the “you can’t change your past” speech, but for Constantine, it’s not just about his mom. He hurt a lot of people and it’s about to catch up to him. He changes the subject when Zari asks what he means, but we see flashes of the demon attack from the first episode intercut with glimpses of a strange man.

The Smell, meanwhile, have learned “Rayge’s” secret. They’ve discovered that he’s…into disco!

Wait, what?

Oh, they have a newspaper showing Ray, Sara, Amaya, and Nate in disco outfits onstage during the off-camera mission from last season’s “Here I Go Again”. Charlie defends Ray, citing the other band members’ pasts as well as her own “stint in the lockup”. She doesn’t care who anyone was in the past; she cares about who they want to be now. And with that, I officially like Charlie.

Ray tells her about his “band” and Amaya, their moral compass. Charlie shares a little bit of her own story, that she was locked away by small-minded people who didn’t understand what she was. She reveals that she’s a shapeshifter and Ray thinks that’s “astonishing”. Aww, I miss Martin too, Ray. All of this convinces Ray that Charlie isn’t a bad person, just a little bit of a prankster, and he tries to convince the other Legends not to send her to Hell. The Legends think he’s naïve and indoctrinated, and they storm the band’s hideout to capture Charlie. Yikes.

On the bright side of things, Zari hears about Ray’s tattoo and hopes it’s a tramp stamp. I love you, Zari. Also, Sara’s snappy sendoff is “Squad save the Queen.” I also love you, Sara.

Ray chooses to defend Charlie with the Atom suit, and it cuts to “Ray” attacking the Legends. It’s actually a shapeshifted Charlie, and the real Ray wakes up in time to stop her. When the Legends try to send her to Hell, she shapeshifts into each of them to show them the faces of the “true monsters”. Then, as a last desperate bid, she changes into their lost “moral compass” – Amaya. That changes their minds, but Constantine won’t let a shapeshifter on the Waverider, so he casts a spell to take away her power.

Charlie is locked up in a force field. Ray is scolded, but he also comes clean to the others about helping Nora Darhk escape. Constantine is told to fix the Charlie/Amaya problem, but he can’t restore her power. Charlie is stuck looking like Amaya.

Throughout the episode, Nate goes through his first couple of days at the Time Bureau with Gary. While trying to track down a magical fugitive in 780,000 B.C., they’re chased by a saber-toothed tiger and forced to flee. Gary brings a plant back with them and it’s a living magical plant that wreaks havoc across the Bureau until they kill it. Little Bureau of Horrors is an excellent B-plot full of hijinks.

When Sara tries to bring Nate back to the Waverider, he admits that not only did he join the Bureau to help Ava and get to know his dad better, he also did it because the Waverider reminds him too much of Amaya. Sara wisely doesn’t tell him about Charlie and tells him to stay at the Bureau a little longer.

Zari and Constantine are over the whole happy sappy hugfest heart-to-heart chats that usually cap off these episodes, so they do their “too cool for feelings” routine. Zari does give him a surveillance photo from the pub of him talking to his mom, though, and Constantine seems grateful for that.

There’s a lot of fun stuff to unpack that I touched lightly on during the recap. Charlie’s character and story touch on themes of being “other.” Assuming she’s being honest, she was banished to Mallus’ time prison by humans who were afraid of her because she was different. She just wants to live a life of freedom where she can be herself and “different” while still being accepted by others. It’s not a surprise that she was drawn to the punk movement.

There’s also a throwaway comment that makes me wonder where they’re going with Charlie: “You’re a cool lady, or man, or whatever you want to be.” Along with Charlie’s ease at transforming between a man and a woman, I’m wondering if the writers might do something with gender identity. Charlie is referred to by she/her pronouns throughout the episode, but that still could be a direction they go in. It’s a shame she was stripped of her abilities, because in addition to shapeshifting being a cool and potentially useful power as a Legend, it could offer insight into Charlie’s identity and gender expression. We know from the episode that her punk band form isn’t her original – it came from a toothpaste ad, a form she adopted because the woman “had a nice smile”.

The Amaya twist wasn’t surprising to me because I followed casting information and other DCTV news during the summer break. We were told that while Amaya was back in her own time to live out her life, Maisie Richardson-Sellers would stay with the show as a new character somehow related to the season’s plot. Charlie isn’t Amaya – there are major differences in attitude (and accent) – so it will be fun getting to know an entirely new character with a familiar face.

For the rest of the Legends, we’re still building the slow burn of learning what’s after Constantine. Zari is at peace with her inability to save her family enough to talk to and empathize with Constantine. Ray is still that overly optimistic goober who wants to give everyone a second chance. Nate is finally admitting why he’s really avoiding the Waverider, and now he has a really, really good reason to do so. Three episodes in and they’re already setting up so much juicy conflict and personal interactions to go along with the crazy. I’m in heaven.

Next time: summer camp…FROM HELL. Sooooo just regular summer camp, then?

Legends Of Tomorrow airs Mondays on the CW at 9 ET/8 CT. Kate can be reached on Twitter @WearyKatie.

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